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"Free medicine" is not so free

on Friday, 01 May 1959. Posted in Societal debates

Dr. W. W. Bauer, is the director of health education for the American Medical Association, that immensely powerful group, which wields almost absolute power over American medicine. Dr. Bauer writes a syndicated newspaper column which appears in, among other papers, the Montreal Gazette. In the edition of April 16, 1959, Dr. Bauer had some interesting things to say about state health insurance.

Of course, what Dr. Bauer has to say is aimed at protecting the interests of the Medical Association. "Nevertheless, apart from motive, his statements are quite valid for upholding the Social Credit point of view on state health insurance.

Dr. Bauer begins his article by noting that Americans complain of the high cost of medical treatment in the United States. There is as yet no compulsory medical health insurance operated by the state there. The doctor says that those who complain might be interested in some facts about the medical insurance situation in Germany. Dr. Bauer gets his information from the German publication, Der Spiegel (The Mirror).

Dr. Bauer says that in West Germany 80 percent of the people are covered by government medicine, 12.5 percent by private insurance, 5 percent have no insurance and 2.5 percent are covered by charity.

"A company employing 5,000 persons ordinarily requests 5,000 sickness certificates by quarter, which means that every employee has at least one sick call in a quarter, whether he needs it or not; this is because the general attitude of the people is that they have paid for the system and they might as well get something out of it. Hospital expenses have increased because the average patient remains in the hospital for 38 days, whereas prior to 1955 he remained there only 21 days.".

Presumably most people labor under the illusion, in this particular matter, that they are getting something for which they personally pay not a cent. However let's see what Der Spiegel and Dr. Bauer have to say on this point.

"The medical care system in Germany must pay each worker 90 percent of his net salary while he is sick. During a recent influenza wave most parts of the system lost their reserve, and ran into debt because everyone who had the flu was sick for at least 14 days, on 90 percent of his working pay."

So you think the German worker's lot is a happy one? Medical care paid, plus 90 percent of his net salary? Not bad! But, wait, let us see what is further to be said on this system..:

"This system, like others which are represented as free medicine, is far from free. Since 1956 when 6 percent of a day's pay was deducted for medical purposes, the deduction now has increased to 8.5 percent and in some units to 10.5 percent. The German worker earning $165.00 a month contributes up to $17.50 for his medical care. His total deduction for social purposes amount to 30 percent of his pay.".

This is hardly free medicine, as Dr. Bauer points out. Not only is it not free, it is not even economical.

"The end result, according to this German paper, is that the mixed-up system of socialized medicine in Germany, largely dominated by the government, is bankrupt. Costs have risen, medical care has deteriorated, physicians are unhappy and the general outlook is bad."

Of course, Dr. Bauer is trying to show that medicine is best off when left to the doctor and the individual, with the government staying out of the way. And to this we can add a hearty, "Amen!". However, the prohibitive cost of medical care and treatment is no myth.

The cure, however, is not to socialize people and lay upon them additional taxes, but, as Social Credit advocates, to finance the hospitals with interest-free advances of credit and the individual with a periodic dividend, based on the country's productive capacity. In this way there is no need to turn to either Socialism or increased taxes.


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